Friday, July 29, 2011

An Interview with Author Suzy Turner

It's Friday and I'm excited to have Suzy Turner here today! I appeared on Suzy's blog last Saturday HERE. Suzy's the author of a YA novel entitled Raven: Part I of the Raven Saga.

Here's the scoop on Raven:

After the inexplicable disappearance of Lilly Taylor's parents, she has no choice but to move to Canada where she unravels some frightening yet intriguing family secrets... 
Raven is a fantasy novel for children and young adults set in the beautiful province of British Columbia. 
 Welcome to Unwritten, Suzy! I see from your website HERE that you are UK born, but have lived in Portugal since you were a child. Tell us a little more about your life there and what you do when you're not writing.

Thank you for inviting me, Mysti! Well, when I was 16 I met the man who would eventually become my husband. In fact, we recently celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. We live in a house at the foothills of the Monchique Mountains where I spend most of my time writing. When I'm not writing, editing or promoting my books, I've usually got my head in someone else's book (always on Kindle!). At weekends when my husband isn't working, we often go for a drive, sometimes to the summit of the mountain, to have a cup of coffee and enjoy the views. But when I'm home, I just can't resist my laptop, which always ends up with me either writing again, or social networking! I do enjoy spending a couple of hours curled up on the sofa watching TV though.

Are you fluent in Portuguese or any other languages besides English? How do you think your writing has been influenced by living in Portugal as opposed to the UK?

I do speak Portuguese but I've gotten a bit lazy with it lately. Everybody tends to speak English here so I just go along with it. I think living in Portugal has made me a very different person to who I would've been had I grown up in England. I was introduced to so many different cultures when we moved here. It was a world away from the life I'd had up until aged ten. I can't really say how it's affected my writing because I was so young when I came here.

Tell us about Raven. What inspired you to write this novel, and how many more can we expect in the series?

Raven came about after a visit to western Canada in 2009, specifically, a small beach in Powell River, BC. I was sitting in this small bay that was scattered with huge pieces of driftwood, watching fish hop in and out of the water, with islands off in the distance and the Pacific Ocean lapping at the shore. It was dramatic and stunning... yet somewhat eerie. I was mesmerised. That was when the ideas started to develop. I've almost finished book II, entitled December Moon. There will be a third and final book in The Raven Saga and then I think I'll be moving on to something else.

Lots of authors wonder whether they should try to publish traditionally or go the self-published route. How did you decide to self-publish? What are the pros and cons in your opinion?

After receiving nearly 20 standard rejections from agents, I just felt like enough was enough. When a friend suggested that I should try Amazon & Smashwords, I looked into it and was dumb-founded. There was no reason why I shouldn't try it... it didn't cost anything and it meant that my book would finally be read and that's all I ever wanted. I honestly can't give any cons about self-publishing. Had I not done it, chances are that I'd still be sending off letters to agents and publishers hoping that one would eventually say yes. Whereas this way, I've sold quite a few copies to people who have loved it! Many have given it 4 and 5 star reviews which is absolutely thrilling.

What genres and authors do YOU like to read?

I adore YA urban fantasy and chick lit but I do tend to read a wide variety of books (some favourites include The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel). Other authors whose books I've loved are Stephenie Meyer, JK Rowling, Becca Fitzpatrick, Cecelia Ahern, Belinda Jones and Sophie Kinsella. But these days I tend to read more self-published authors and I've found some real gems like Shalini Boland (Hidden), Johanna Frappier (Fairy Circle) and Patti Roberts (Paradox). There are so many fabulous writers out there, I could easily keep going!

Now, for your random question. If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

Ooh that's a tough one! Sneak into Area 51 and see all those aliens for myself, maybe, or sit in on a night in with the Queen and see how she really chills out!

Now, Ms. Turner, would you be so kind as to share an excerpt from RavenAbsolutely!

The summer months were coming to an end when my parents disappeared. Although the day had begun like any other, it became one that I would never forget.
That morning, as usual, I sat at the kitchen table listening to the noises drifting up from outside - traffic, police sirens, people laughing and shouting - while I struggled to swallow the piece of dry bread that was shoved in front of me. “Eat,” commanded my mother.
A small glass of milk just about helped it go down before she snatched the plastic tumbler from my hands, pulled me to my feet and shoved me out of the front door of our London flat without another word. Turning around to search her eyes, I attempted a smile in the hope that she might return it. But the door was shut in my face. A deep ache filled my stomach. I needed something that I had never experienced. I needed to know that she loved me.
Leaning against the door, I heard the familiar sound of her footsteps walking into the other room. She closed the door and locked it behind her. My mother and father had locked themselves in the spare room once again, just like they had done every day for as long as I could remember. I had always assumed they worked from home.

Thanks so much for visiting us on Unwritten, Suzy! I wish you tons of success!

For more information on Suzy Turner and her work, please visit her blog:

And her website:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What'd Ya Say? Dialogue Contest

Great dialogue can make or break a story or film. I love writing dialogue. Witty or powerful speech is challenging to create, but if you get it right, people will remember it for a long time to come.

Who can forget Rhett Butler's "My dear, I don't give a damn." ?(from Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind). Frankly, I like the movie version better. 

Or this unforgettable exchange from "Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail"?:
Bridgekeeper: Hee hee heh. Stop. What... is your name? 
King Arthur: It is 'Arthur', King of the Britons. 
Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest? 
King Arthur: To seek the Holy Grail. 
Bridgekeeper: What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? 
King Arthur: What do you mean? An African or European swallow? 
Bridgekeeper: Huh? I... I don't know that. 
[he is thrown over] 
Bridgekeeper: Auuuuuuuugh. 
Sir Bedevere: How do know so much about swallows? 
King Arthur: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king, you know. 

Do your characters love to argue? Are they comedians or just sarcastic? Did one of them say something ironic or foolish before they met their untimely demise? Or did they say something so compelling it brought tears to your eyes?

Here's one my own favorite exchanges from A Ranger's Tale:

Galadin: "What?"
First Mate Shyler: "This 'un's got you round her finger, Cap'n, that's what."
Galadin: "Shut up and steer."
Show me that dialogue! It can be from any type of fiction, any character, any situation, as long as it's yours. And let's keep it short. No lengthy monologues, please. 

If I get 15 or more, I'll choose some finalists and put them up here so you can all cast your votes. Up to ten, and I'll just post them all so we can vote. The winner will receive a $10 gift card to feed his/her reading addiction. 

***Please send me your entries via the message form at the top right of my sidebar. I'll take entries until next Friday, August 5, and then will choose finalists for voting. Let the submitting begin!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review of "Guardian of the Sky Realms" by Gerry Huntman

Buy it HERE! 
You may remember my interview with Gerry Huntman HERE. Now, I got the privilege of reading his debut novel. Check it out!

Maree Webster is your average 16-year-old girl from the suburbs of Sydney. Until she sneaks into a gallery to steal a famous painting and finds herself mesmerized and emotionally drawn to the compelling image of two angels in flight--one carrying another, who appears to be injured.

When a strange man appears and seems relieved to find her, Maree is hurled into fantastical world where she takes on another completely forgotten identity. Maree must now resume her role as Mirriam, a Guardian of the Sky Realms.

She and her partner Alanar have to protect both the Sky Realm and the passageways into the plane of Earth from the daemons that seek to destroy them. One of their targets is a young man named Jason, whom Marree had fallen in love with while she was still her teenage self.

The world Mr. Huntman created here in this middle grade novel is vivid and lively. Characters are emotive and realistic. I empathized with them all, especially Alanar, who wanted so desperately to have Mirriam back, but was so incredibly patient with her amnesia and her inability to forget her life as Maree. I greatly enjoyed all the obstacles and battles they had to overcome in order to reach their goals, and I think young readers will love those as well.

My only nitpicks were minor. Through the lens of an adult reader, Jason's role in this story didn't seem strong enough to warrant his final outcome. And Alanar, again in my adult mind, got the short end of the stick. However, this may not pose a problem to the younger crowd, who might be in young Jason's camp from the start. One other thing was that a lot of the "world rules" were told through dialogue instead of really shown, but again, this may not be an issue with young readers.

I definitely recommend this story to any lovers of fantasy, young and old alike. It won't disappoint!

Monday, July 25, 2011

An Interview with Author T.D. Jones, Take Two!

Buy it HERE!
Another Take Two interview for you to beat the Mundaze!  T.D. Jones, author of Hot Days, and a story (Just a Little Too Late) in the recently released anthology Curious Hearts is back for another interview on Unwritten.

You may remember my first interview with T.D. HERE, and my review of Hot Days HERE.

Without further ado or rambling, say hello again to T.D. Jones! Thanks for coming back, and please tell us what life's been like since our first interview in February.

Life has been busy. Editing Curious Hearts which was released July 24th. I also have two big books over 60,000 each coming out in early Feb 2012 that I'm editing. Even though it's been crazy I'm loving it. 

Tell us a little about Curious Hearts and what kind of stories we can find in this 7-author anthology. Can we expect the T.D. laugh-out-loud humor we've come to love in Just a Little Too Late?

The anthology is about lost loves and what if you got a chance to go back and do it different, would you?
Since my story Just a Little Too Late is only around 11,000 words I had to be tight with the words so there isn’t a lot of humor in this story. It’s just a sweet love story and about making peace with your past.

In our first interview, you were working on a series called the Tootles McGee Mysteries. How's that coming along?

Tootles is going great. I love this character and she reminds me of Lilly, the grandma from Hot Days. This is where you will see a lot of the humor I love to write. The first story is complete and is called Marital Mishap and I’ve got it floating around to see if Tootles can get a bite from publishers. I will keep you updated.

Since I haven't mentioned it much, let's spill a few beans about the project you, me, Anna James, and Olivia Ritch are working on. Are you looking forward to it as much as I am?

Yes, I’m so excited about this project. I’m always planning in my head how my part will go and hope to get started on writing it soon. I think this will be a great book due to the other writers that are involved in it. 

Buy it HERE!
I love to share wisdom as I grow as a writer.What lessons have you learned writing-wise over the past months since Hot Days was released?

You can never self edit enough. I was really naïve as a new writer going in and thought if I don’t catch something the editors will, which in today’s times they can’t always do. You have to look over a story several times before things are caught. Don’t ever assume it’s perfect.
I think the other thing that I’ve learned is that as a writer you change as each story gets done. You hear your writing voice louder and louder, you learn what you love to write and what you just can’t write. 

You know I have to throw in a random question. So yours is: If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?

This is a great question and I loved to go to the circus as a kid. I would be the elephant handler behind the scenes. Bath them, feed them, all that stuff. I got to get up really close to an elephant one time and I feel their soul is in their eyes. She just looked at me and my heart feel in love with her.

Now, Ms. Jones, would you do the honor of sharing an excerpt from Just a Little Too Late in Curious Hearts?

Sujo Crane glanced at the white dress strategically placed in the corner of her bedroom. In another month she would be Mrs. Sujo Monroe. She wiped a tear from her cheek.

“Sujo, are you there?”

“Yes, I‘m here,” Sujo said. She had been on the phone with him for over an hour. He had been explaining the accident and the details of the funeral. She felt she was still in shock over the news.

“Please, say you‘ll come,” Jason Beckman said, “For Gerard.”
Sujo let out a loud sigh. “I‘m really busy with the wedding and all. I just don‘t know if I can make it.” She knew she wasn‘t being all that truthful; there was really nothing else to do for the wedding. It was going to be a simple affair with family and friends. Neither she nor Mark was into big weddings with all the crazy details that went along with them. So there was really no details left, she knew in her heart the real reason was she wasn‘t sure if she could handle facing Jason again after all these years. She thought she had closed that door to her heart but when she picked up the phone and heard his voice, emotions of the past came to the surface.

“Too busy to come to an old friend‘s funeral. That doesn‘t sound like you…the old Sujo I knew would drop everything for a friend.” Jason paused and then said, “Hell, bring what‘s his name too…just come.”

“His name‘s Mark Monroe.” Sujo glanced over at the wedding dress again. She remembered the day she tried it on. It fit perfect, no alternations needed at all. It was as if it was made for her. Not a thing was wrong with it…just like Mark. She wasn‘t the type of girl to like perfect. She was the girl who liked the quirky side of life. She was the girl who did the opposite of her friends, never fitting into that perfect mold. So it was surprising to her and everyone else that she went for the perfect guy who always did everything right and had his…their life planned out perfect for them down to the day they would start trying to have kids.

“Sujo, you and Gerard were the best of friends. Hell, sometimes I wondered if you two had something going on behind my back.”

Sujo smiled when she thought back to the three of them together. They were young and had no cares in the world. She thought they would always be close, but Jason changed all that.

“Gerard was always there for me.”

“Remember when I gave you that ring? I think he was actually happier than you were. He said we were meant to be together.”

“Don‘t do this, Jason.” Sujo felt the tears starting to run down her cheeks again.

“We were great together. Please come. I need you. I don‘t want to bury our friend without you.”

Sujo tried to look at the dress again but her eyes wouldn‘t move that way, instead they looked at the old photo album she had lying on the bed in front of her. She outlined the picture of her and Jason and Gerard together on the beach. It was during spring break in her first year of college and Jason had called and convinced her into coming down to where he was working and spend her vacation with him, and Gerard had a new girlfriend he wanted her to meet. She ran her fingers along the picture and outlined Jason‘s blond, wavy hair. It was on that beach where Jason took back the ring he had given her and said he never wanted to marry her. He wanted his freedom and didn‘t want to be tied down. She went home broken-hearted but knew if she gave him some time he would change his mind and call her and say he was sorry for the mean things he said. He never called and her heart finally healed and she moved on...or so she thought. 

Thanks so much, T.D., for being here again today. I hope you make many more appearances!  

Thank you for having me and I look forward to coming by again.

For more information on T.D. Jones and her writing, please visit/follow her blog: and  website:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Interview at Suzy Turner's Blog

Thanks to all 27 people who commented on my birthday giveaway and got free e-books!! I hope you enjoy them and stay tuned for more giveaways.

Now, what do Bradley Cooper and Scarlett Johanssen have to do with A Ranger's Tale?? You'll have to go to Suzy Turner's blog to find out!

Be sure to leave a comment and say hello. I enjoyed this interview very much and expect to see Suzy here next Friday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's My Party...

So I'll give away books if I want to!

In celebration of my ___th birthday (no you may not see my age), I'm doing something crazy. Everyone who comments with your email address here on this post from now until the big day (Friday), I'll give a free e-book copy of both A Ranger's Tale and Hearts of Tomorrow, which includes my first novelette from the fantasy world of Tallenmere, Let There Be Love.

So, tell your friends, spread the word, and make my ___th birthday a happy one by taking some free books. Remember to leave your email like (mystiparker (at) yahoo (dot) com) OR you can message me in the box on my sidebar if you'd rather. Thanks for all your support, and happy birthday to me!

Friday, July 15, 2011

An Interview with Author Louis K. Lowy

I think I've lost count of which interview number this is, but I'm just having so much fun meeting new authors that I just don't care! So, let's get your Friday off to a great start by welcoming author Louis K. Lowy!

Louis's book, Die Laughing, is high up on my TBR list. It's just been released, and I was lucky enough to get an early copy. The first page had me in stitches. You may remember Louis as one of the featured authors on my 5,000 hit giveaway HERE

If you were one of the lucky ones to win his book, let him know what you think when you read it!

Without further ado, welcome to Unwritten, Louis! Please tell us a little about yourself. What do you do when you're not writing about aliens in 1950's NYC?

           Hi Mysti, thanks for inviting me over to Unwritten. To answer the first part of your question, I was born in Pittsburgh, but moved with my parents to South Florida when I was five. I grew up in Hialeah (home of the race track) and worked there as a firefighter. I also played music nearly my entire life –where I started honing my writing skills by composing song lyrics for the many groups I played in.

What do I do when I’m not writing about aliens in 1950’s NYC? Hmmm, at the moment trying to introduce people to the story I wrote about aliens in 1950’s NYC.
Seriously, I’m working on other writings. I finished the third draft of a novel about a forty-nine year old music teacher who was fired and tries to find redemption in competitive bicycle riding, and I’m working on another sci-fi story that bounces between characters, time and location. I’m also attending Florida International University where I’m studying to get my MFA in creative writing.

 From your book description, it says:
"Die Laughing, a humorously dark science-fiction novel, is set in the 1950s of flying saucers, communist paranoia, and live television."
Buy it HERE!
What inspired you to come up with this unique idea?

I found my protagonist first, thanks to three Japanese girls and a story generator. The girls – foreign exchange students – were visiting my son. I was searching around for a new story idea and someone gave me this so-called instant story-generator. It’s a sheet of paper with three columns: one with a numbered list of characters, one with actions, and one with desires. The idea was to pick a number for each column and match them to whatever it corresponded with, and that’s your story.

I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. I asked the girls to name a number. Each one said seven. The corresponding numbers on the action and desire columns were lame and I ignored them, but on the character column, seven was a stand up comic. I liked that, and so my central character, Sam E. Lakeside, was born.
            What brought me to set my story in the 1950’s was foremost my passion for the sci-fi and horror movies of that era. I love both the really bad ones like Plan Nine From Outer Space, and the really good ones like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Also, The 1950’s has always been an exciting era in my mind. Senator McCarthy’s witch hunts for communists had ruined lives and careers. Elvis Presley and rock and roll had exploded on the scene. Teenagers were starting to become a force onto their own for the first time. Racial tensions were coming to a violent head at Little Rock High School in Arkansas. And, of course, TV was becoming the new king of media. The habits of society were changing from going to the movies to going to the living room.
Once I had Sam, the idea of placing his story in the fifties and toying with all these notions, started to formulate.

How long did it take you to complete Die Laughing, and do you have any interesting stories to tell about the research process?

             It took about two-and-a-half years. The research process was exhausting. Because the story takes place in 1956 every social and cultural reference had to be true to that period. Every time one of my characters ate, dressed, picked up something or stepped somewhere I had to make sure it was accurate. Because Sam is trying to get from Las Vegas to New York City, my best friend was a 1954 road atlas that I purchased on eBay.

I love snooping on author websites, like yours HERE. Among the many interesting things you're involved in, I see that you're working towards an MFA in creative writing at Florida International University. How has that experience been for you so far? Would you recommend terribly green writers like myself to invest in an MFA program?

             I’ve read a lot of criticism about MFA programs. Most seem to come from agents and editors. Their biggest gripe is that the programs become mills. That is, everything looks the same. There’s no individuality to the writing. I don’t necessarily disagree with them because students are being taught techniques and devices that they emulate from the instructors. One the other hand, that’s how most creative endeavors begin. You learn the basics and then as you progress you hone your skills and eventually, for the few really talented ones, you develop your own voice.

Another factor is the quality of the program itself. FIU’s MFA program is highly regarded. The instructors are terrific and I’ve learned a great deal, though I’m cognizant of the mill factor. Maybe the key is to take what you learn, but also be aware there’s other ways of doing things.
The bottom line is I’d unequivocally recommend writing classes to anyone who wants to learn the basics of story, plot, and character. From there, it would be an individual decision to see if it’s right for you.

You've had lots of publishing credits over the years. When did you start the serious business of writing for publication? What genres have been your favorite to write? 

            I started writing seriously about four years ago, when I started drifting from playing in bands. Up to that point, music was my creative release. Good bands are stormy by nature, but I was getting frustrated with having to deal with the volatility. I’ve always had a knack for writing and I decided it was time to explore it more.

            What are my favorite genres to write in? I haven’t really decided at this point. Die Laughing was my first novel, and it was sci-fi. I’ve written about fifteen short stories, a third of them junk, and of the other ten, eight have been published. They’re all over the place genre-wise. They range from mystery, to horror, to romance. I even had a humor poem finish second place in a contest. I’m not so much attracted to genre as I am to writing something that strikes a chord with the reader, which brings a sense of quiet wow.

So, I have to know--where did you come up with the name for your blog--The Writer From Haunted Cave?

Good question! It goes back to my love of 1950’s sci-fi and horror movies. I collect them. Most are hanging in my writing room. One of my favorites is of a very scantily glad girl in the embraces of a pickle-green squid creature who lives in a cave. The 1959 movie is called Beast From Haunted Cave. A good friend of mine suggested I call the blog Writer From Haunted Cave, which I loved. We did a take-off of the poster and used it for the logo.
And now, what you've all been waiting's random question: What aspects of a book make you stop reading and/or throw it against a wall?

            Something that is so knock-out great that I have to, in a literal sense, catch my breath. A great example is the closing passage of Joyce’s short story “Araby.” A young protagonist goes through great hardship to attend a bazaar that he envisions as something grand because he wants to purchase a gift for a girl he’s infatuated with. When he gets there the bazaar turns out to be a cheap market. As the market lights turn off, he realizes his grand romantic vision is nothing but illusion. We get his final thought: Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

Another great example comes from Robert McCammon’s book A Boy’s Life. When the protagonist (another youth) loses his friend to a hunting accident, McCammon writes a beautifully moving passage about eternally flying and planet exploring which the dead boy desired. Things like that (in a literal sense) lead me to toss the book against the wall in awe, and ask myself, How the hell did they do that?
On the flip side, if a book is really to my disliking, I nod off and it slips from my hands and dies a slow death.

Finally, Louis, would you be so kind as to share an excerpt from Die Laughing? 

I’d love to. This is taken from the end of chapter one, which sets the whole story in motion. Sam has just finished performing his lounge act.

            The audience stood and the cheering renewed itself. Sam E. bowed and threw a kiss with his palm. He glanced one more time at Mitzi, the chesty blonde in the wings, but a diminutive, pointy-nosed man in a blue-satin suit and a small-brimmed fedora was standing where she had been.
He walked into the wings. As he did, he passed the diminutive man, who doffed his hat and smiled at Sam E.
“Sam, it’s your agent,” a slim, thin-haired janitor, standing by the back-stage door, said. He handed Sam E. the receiver from a wall phone hanging next to him.
“Doc,” he said, “I just finished the show…Yeah, I killed ‘em…What do you mean I won’t be here next week?…Did they dump me?…The Steve Allen Show? You’re kidding me, right?…Yeeeaaaah!” He hopped in a small circle, tangling the cord around his shoulders. “Doc, I love you!” Unraveling the cord, he added, “Oh, and Marge too!”
Before hanging up the receiver Sam E. grabbed the janitor by the shoulders and said, “I’m going to New York, Herkie, The Steve Allen Show!
“I gathered that.”
“Have you seen Mitzi? I want to give her the good news.”
The janitor shrugged. “Maybe your dressing room.”
Sam E. zipped down the hall and into his dressing room. The small, messy room was empty except for the diminutive man in the fedora. He was leaning against the wall filing his nails. He stopped briefly to again tip his hat.
“Who the hell are you?” Sam E. walked up to the man. “And where’s Mitzi?”
“Sorry, friend, but I get to ask the questions.” The man slipped a spit-polish black .45 from his shoulder holster and shoved it against Sam E.’s forehead. “And my first question is, ‘Would you like to take a walk?’”

Thank you so much for visiting today, Mr. Lowy, and I wish you a ton of success!

Thank you, Mysti. It’s been a pleasure, and I in turn wish you the same!

***To read more about Louis K. Lowy, please visit or The Writer From Haunted Cave!

***Buy Die Laughing from IFWG Publishing or!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What's Your Kryptonite?

There are certain days when I am NOT in a good state of mind. I take a ride on the emotional roller coaster, on a perpetual downward dive. No matter what I do, I can't overcome the slump, but am forced to ride it out. The entire time, I'm convinced that I'm not a good mother, wife, writer, [fill in the blank].

What I'm coming to realize though, is that this predictable spiral is my kryptonite. This is my weak moment. If I'm not careful, Ms. Mopey starts to emerge, and I rub off my depressive mood  on everyone I meet, in person or online.

So, what's the solution? How did Superman prevent succumbing to his weakness?

I think the answer is that he steered clear when he could, but most importantly, he RECOGNIZED it for what it was and understood how it affected him. He didn't deny it existed or try to pretend it wasn't there. In both comic, movie, and TV episodes, he often took action, like hurling all known fragments into the sun or entrusting it to Batman.

How nice it would be if I could hurl my weaknesses into the sun! Alas, it's not possible, but what I can do is acknowledge those dark days when they arrive and give myself some grace, keeping in mind that it's not forever, that the roller coaster plunge will soon come to a halt and the ride will start cranking back up to the top again. A little extra downtime and exercise can do wonders. But if I try to ignore it or pretend like everything's dandy, I'll crash. The kryptonite must be acknowledged or it'll zap my powers, leaving me defenseless.

Q & A time: What is your krpytonite? How do you handle it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Interview with Author Jenny Twist, Take Two!

Another Take Two interview to kick off your week! You may remember my first interview with Jenny Twist HERE. She was just about to release her first anthology of short stories, called Take One at Bedtime. It's a great collection, so I reviewed it HERE
Order your copy HERE!

Now, Jenny's back with yet another release! Domingo's Angel is a romance set in Spain and is based on some real life experiences Read on:

When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones. 
But Domingo knows better. “Soy Angela,” she said to him when they met – “I am an angel.” Only later did he realise that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo’s Angel. 
This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children. 
The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.
Without further ado, welcome back Jenny! Tell us what's been happening in your neck of the woods since the last time you were here in March.

Hi Mysti. It’s good to be here again.

We live out in the sticks, so not a lot happens here. I seem to have spent most of the time since we last spoke writing and trying to learn how to promote my books.

What time period do the events in Domingo's Angel take place and what inspired you to delve into this bit of history?

The main story is set in the 1950s, but the characters reminisce about events right back to the days before the civil war which started in 1936.

Before I came to live in Spain I knew nothing of Spanish history and I was horrified to find out about the dreadful atrocities during the Civil War and under Franco – the dictator who ruled Spain from 1939 till his death in 1975. I actually came to Spain on holiday while he was still in power!

I didn’t actually set out initially to write a novel about it. I wrote a short story and it grew. But as it grew I realized I had a lot to say.

Are any of the characters in the book based on real people from the White Villages? Or are they totally fictitious?

I think they are all, to some extent, based on people I know. Josephina the elder, who used to be our post mistress, has certainly contributed a lot to one of the main characters, Rosalba. And the character of Domingo owes a lot to the amazing Frasco Miguel, goatherd and innkeeper. Although I didn’t set out with these people specifically in mind.

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How long and how challenging was the research process to write this book?

I researched as I went along. I knew a lot already about the culture and it has hardly changed in 50 years. The people in the villages are very old-fashioned. They still call each other ‘Sir’ & ‘Madam,’ even when they’ve known each other all their lives. The way of life here has only changed superficially. These people are still basically peasant farmers. Each one has his land and is to a greater or lesser extent self-sufficient. Many keep goats and chickens. Modern technology is just a thin veneer over the ancient way of life. It is not unusual to see a typical Andalusian farmer riding his mule and speaking into his mobile phone as he goes along.

You can find out nearly everything in the way of background historical events from books like ‘The Spanish Civil War’ by Anthony Beever, which has loads of information about what went on in the major cities. But there is very little written about what went on in the little villages, and the people are very reluctant to talk about it. It was a nightmare for them. Brother fought against brother, and in Spain the family is everything.

I relied on what I knew about my own friends – the story of Salva the Baker, for example, who was imprisoned for years for giving bread to the starving children, is true. I also transposed some of the real events from the history books to my own imaginary village. But after I had finished the book, I discovered a wonderful book by David Baird – ‘Between Two Fires’, which is the history of his own white village of Frigiliana. It consists of the actual testimony of those who survived and I was able to check my own version against this much more accurate one. It seems I got it right. Phew!

Let's go back a bit to Take One at Bedtime. I thoroughly enjoyed it! What have other readers had to say about it?

I’ve actually had a very good response. Everyone who has contacted me has said they really enjoyed it. Of course, if they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t contact me!

What I found fascinating is everybody had a different favourite story. I thought I might do a contest later to see if anyone can guess which one is my favourite story.

Apart from your own review, which I really appreciated. I’ve had several others on Amazon

and Goodreads

As I've learned, sometimes the hard way, writing for publication is a tough business. Have you ever had to deal with negative feedback, either before or after publication? And what is your advice to other writers on how to handle that?

I’ve not had any really awful feedback after publication, but I had loads of rejections when I was trying to find a publisher. Most don’t bother to reply at all. Those who do are usually quite obviously using a form letter and clearly haven’t read the work in question. I once, to my amazement, got quite a rude letter from a major magazine publisher which appeared to be criticizing an entirely different piece. The comments didn’t relate to my story at all. What amazed me was that they should be so unkind to people who submit stories to them. Surely many of these are their own readers. Do they really think it’s a good idea to insult them?

Basically, the only way I can handle negative stuff is to completely ignore it and concentrate on the positive.

You have to remember that these people receive thousands of submissions. Just keep trying. Don’t let bad feedback stop you. Nobody can please all the people all the time.

Today's random question is so very, very random. What are some of the items currently residing in your junk drawer? 

I don’t think you want to know. I don’t want to know myself. Last time I looked it seemed to be full of old mobile phones and television remotes. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe I’m rejecting modern technology.

Finally, Ms. Twist, would you be so kind as to share an excerpt of Domingo's Angel?

I’d be delighted. Here you are:


The next day he took his goats to the top of the ridge near the pass and looked down on the smallest casita of Guillermo the mayor. There was a mule tethered outside and a string of washing had been hung between two almond trees. Otherwise there was no sign of life. Halfway down the slope was a large algarrobo tree. He decided it would be an ideal place for lunch.

But although he sat and watched the little house all the time as he ate his bread and cheese and olives and drank his wine, nobody came out and nothing happened. Only the mule moved along the side of the house to keep in the shade as the sun moved round. So he went to sleep.

When he woke up, someone was calling him. “Hola, goatherd!”

He squinted up into the sun and there, standing before him was an angel. It was very tall and thin and there was a fiery halo round its head. “Hello,” it said, "Soy Ángela - I am angel. I am delighted to meet you! Who are you?”

In absolute panic, Domingo shot up into a sitting position and shuffled backwards into the algarrobo tree. His head hit the hard trunk with a resounding crack and he subsided and slumped back down, feeling a little stunned.

The angel came forward into the shadow of the algarrobo tree and he realised that the halo was, in fact, hair - very long hair - falling in waves down beyond her shoulders and almost to her waist. It was exactly the colour of oranges that have dried on the tree. Her skin was so white it was almost blue and her eyes were so pale they had no colour at all. “How could they think she was a dead person?” he thought in a confused fashion. “She is obviously an angel.”

Thank you so much for letting me interview you again, Jenny! I hope we can make it a regular occurrence, and I wish you the best of luck with your latest release!

Thank you for having me, Mysti.

I really appreciate it.